If you’ve ever heard me share my story, my story of salvation and sanctification, you’ve heard me retell how I came to Christ because of my Judy. Judy was a constant witness to the faithfulness and love of the Father. Her singing and joy and laughter and steadfastness radiated the gospel. But it was one day that I was scared and felt so alone, my world in pieces, that I sat upon Judy’s lap in her velevety, oversized recliner, and she shared with me that God would never leave me nor forsake me. I knew that day I wanted the relationship with my Creator that Judy had. So I paced her hallway, one bedroom end to the other, saying, “Jesus, come into my heart!” as many times as I could repeat it before dinner. I didn’t have it all figured out. But I knew I wanted Him.
I’ve always been an over-achiever–a perfectionist. I want to do everything to the best of my ability. If I know I will likely fail, I’ll never attempt it. I wanted people to be happy with me. So I rarely showed negative emotions as a child. If someone hurt my feelings, I would do my best to get over it or cope. I could make you an impressive list, and check off each one. I knew what being a “good Christian” looked like, and I could surpass that all. I wanted to be close to Him, do what He said, a leader and example for believers.
But then, the Colette I had known all along began to experience things she couldn’t suppress. My emotions seemed to rare up without warning. Anger that I couldn’t hide or reason away. I was dealing with this internal monster that seemed to take away my entire foundation of the person I thought was me. Such a heavy load to bear.
And then, there came grace.
It was June of 2006. I was sitting on a small park bench outside my apartment at UMHB. Most students had gone home for the summer by this point. I stayed behind to finish up some credit hours and work as a tour guide for incoming freshman and their parents. The sun was shining gently through the trees, and it was so still and quiet all around me. I had recently begun Beth Moore’s study on the tabernacle–completely floored by the lessons I was learning about God dwelling among His people. That day, the study led me to Genesis 15. God had previously called Abram to leave his home, his kindred, his land, and go. Go to the place that God would show him. And he did. He packed up and set out. And then came the questions from Abram. How would God make him into a great nation when he was old, and had no children to call his own? How would he know that he would possess the land God promised him? So God told him his descendants would number the stars. And Abram believed. And then God went on to seal His covenant with Abram. And here is where my life would forever change.
I read through the happenings of this sealing. How Abram gathered the appropriate animals, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. How a deep sleep and dreadful darkness fell upon him. And how the Lord finalized the covenant while Abram was fast asleep. Zero participation on Abram’s behalf at this point.
“You see, this was God’s covenant. Its ultimate end was unconditional. The faithfulness of God’s promise had nothing to do with Abram and everything to do with God.”
I still have this Bible study workbook. You can literally see how God began to implant these rich, deep truths in the ways He shook my foundations of belief.
I wrote in the margins, “What if Abraham wouldn’t have obeyed God’s voice–would the Lord have still kept His covenant?”
I remember calling Nathan in tears. Why? Why did it not depend on Abram? How? How could it not? Doesn’t my salvation depend on me? Doesn’t my eternity hang upon my checklist?
And my incredibly wise, not-yet-husband-at-the-time, preached to me the gospel. He proclaimed grace to my works-based heart. God chose Abram for the task. Not because of anything he had done or would do. Abram wasn’t even awake to participate in sealing the covenant. The guy thereafter messed up repeatedly. But he did believe on God’s faithfulness. And it was credited to him as righteousness. God called me out, not because of who I was or what I could do for Him, but because of who He was and the love He had for me. Sin-stained and all.
Grace. It finally made sense. And my anger-laden, weary soul cried out to God in praise. That it didn’t depend on me. It was His grace.
Are you tired of constantly suppressing the ugly self that keeps rising to the top? Are you struggling under the weight of all you’re “supposed” to be doing? Believe on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Trust that He has died for you and instead of you. Receive the gift of grace. Be set free.
If Judy was still here with us on earth, I’d take my whole adult-self and crawl into her lap again. I’d tell her how thankful I was for her faithful testimony to the love of God. I’d tell her how I didn’t get it all that day in the fluffy recliner, but more and more, I’m growing to understand what a great and gracious God He is. I know she’d want that for you, too.